What Is a Hernia?

A bulge of soft tissue or an internal organ, pushes through a weakened or torn muscle wall. This is referred to as a hernia. Hernias are common in men, particularly in men over 50 and men who suffer from obesity or muscle weakness. If the hernia becomes strangulated, the blood supply to the protruding organ or tissue is cut off, producing sudden and severe symptoms. More commonly though, a hernia causes minor intermittent symptoms. A hernia can develop over time or suddenly, from trauma or heavy lifting.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • a bulge or swelling under the skin that usually appears over several weeks
  • a feeling of heaviness or slight tenderness at the site of the bulge

TYPES OF HERNIAS

Inguinal

This type of hernia accounts for four out of five hernias in men. Inguinal refers to the groin. Inguinal hernias generally develop where the spermatic cord (the cord that suspends the testes) passes out of the abdomen into the scrotum.

Incisional Hernias

This hernia occurs at the site of a surgical incision in the wall of the abdomen when the abdominal wall becomes weakened or the scar doesn’t heal properly. Portions of the intestine may protrude through the hernia and cause discomfort.

Hiatal Hernia

This kind of hernia occurs when the tissue around the hiatus (the opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus reaches the stomach) weakens. The stomach then protrudes into the chest cavity. Half of all people over the age of 50 have hiatal hernias. Obesity is a major factor contributing to this type of hernia.

WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR

If you think you have a hernia, see your doctor. Although surgery is not always necessary, leaving a hernia untreated could result in a serious condition. A truss, a belt with a pad which is fitted over the hernia, can be used to help reduce some hernias. However, if you have a strangulated hernia, you may need surgery immediately.

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